Customers control companies’ brand perception. Even when they believe in having developed the best product in the world, its verdict still lies within the consumers.

From online reviews to conversations on social media — this is how people determine the quality of your products and brand’s image.

However, brands that manage to grow their brand perception have a greater chance of gaining market share.

What Is Brand Perception?

When customers purchase a product, they make their final decision based on the reviews they’ve read online — or the word-of-mouth they hear from friends, family and colleagues. From there, they finalize their judgment about your brand.

If they associate your brand with positivity, they’re more likely to trust it and spend more on your higher-priced products online.

Source: www.marketingcharts.com

In fact, 46% of U.S. respondents reported they prefer to pay more because of a brand name they trust.

With brand perception, customers will believe what your product or service represents — not what the company claims it does.

However, you can control how the brand’s messaging targets customers. You can do so correctly by crafting your brand’s personality, representing your business’s mission, vision or culture and connecting it to your customers.

How To Improve Your Brand Perception

Customer perception is crucial and can either make or break your business — from the customer experience you deliver to your personalized marketing efforts. Therefore, taking the right steps to improve your brand perception will strengthen your customer relationships and increase brand loyalty.

1. Understand How Your Audience Perceives Your Brand

Chances are you understand your customers’ demographics, age, gender, etc. However, this information level reaches only the surface of your target audience. Therefore, it helps to learn about your customers’ behaviors and understand their motivations.

Luckily, you don’t need a large marketing budget to understand your customers’ perception of your brand. A few ways to capture their feedback include:

  • Surveys: Surveys are cost-effective, and you can quickly gain feedback by asking targeted questions. For example, you could ask them about their overall satisfaction with your customer service team and collect open text feedback.
  • Online reviews: Think of negative reviews as an opportunity to make improvements. While many business owners view online reviews as a cause for concern — they can provide constructive and insightful information.
  • Monitor social media conversations: It’s common for customers to use social media to gain a better understanding of brands. Make monitoring seamless by tracking conversations through social media management tools like Hootsuite.

2. Foster Positive Connections

Customers with great experiences with brands tend to spend more money compared to those with poor interactions.

While financial results are always a plus, the greater advantage is possessing positive customer relationships. This can have a direct impact on how people view your brand.

One way of reinforcing positive relationships is providing personalized and streamlined customer service. The main influence of brand perception is the quality of service delivered.

One study found that 91% of customers are much more likely to purchase from businesses with personalized offers and marketing efforts. For instance, offering live chat customer support rather than long wait times on the phone is one way to strengthen customer perception.

Additionally, people connect with brands when they hone in on their emotions. For example, telling a story that helps someone in a certain way can inspire them to associate with your brand positively.

Personal engagement is also highly trivial. Customers truly appreciate it when brands offer something in return for their participation.

3. Embrace Feedback

Being open to negative criticism is one of the most important steps to branding success. Many customers have felt they’ve been ignored by a company before.

Source: www.statista.com

According to a survey by Statista, at least half of consumers worldwide don’t believe brands take enough action when they provide feedback.

Therefore, when they have this experience, that impression tends to last much longer — and they won’t hesitate to tell others about it.

In fact, one study by American Express showed that Millennial consumers would tell 15 people about a poor experience they had. Luckily, though, consumers are likely to tell more people than that about a great experience.

Customer feedback enables you to make sound business decisions. Consider starting a Facebook group and empowering your customers to share their thoughts about your brand on social media.

4. Make the Most of User-Generated Content

Social media is where people connect, share ideas and socialize with brands. Additionally, they want to see how your products and services fare well with others.

Therefore, sharing UGC (user-generated content) has its advantages. One survey found that UGC strongly influences consumers’ purchase decisions. If it can do that, it can certainly turn consumers’ perceptions of your brand.

Source: www.marketingcharts.com

In fact, 61% of U.S. consumers say it encourages them to engage with brands. Meanwhile, 67% believe that it creates a more authentic experience.

Make the most of UGC by letting your customers do the talking. Positive customer testimonials are the key ingredient to boosting brand perception. However, video testimonials will enhance that even further.

You can record your customers talking about why they recommend your product and how it’s changed their lives. Once you post and tag your UGC on social media, they’ll see you’re the real deal — lifting your brand.

5. Allow Your Customers to Feel Valued

It’s always a good idea to reward your customers for their loyalty. It shows your brand cares, and they feel more respected in return.

For instance, while boosting your brand perception by collecting customer feedback — make them feel valued for their effort by offering something in exchange. You can reward them by sending them a giveaway like an Amazon gift card.

You could also do customer appreciation days by letting your current customers in on a great deal before promoting it to the public. Even sending a personalized “thank you” message right after a sale is a great way to show recognition.

About 90% of customers believe customer service is the top reason they feel loyal to a brand. So make sure you’re taking this step to help them feel appreciated.

6. Make Brand Perception a Top Priority

Growing your brand’s perception should be a commitment. While substantial growth doesn’t happen overnight, you can ensure you’re taking action after creating a strategy and doing your research.

Consider creating a task force or one person exclusively responsible for brand perception. That way, you can entirely depend on at least one team member to make things happen.

You’ll want to ensure you task them with improving your brand perception. So, it’s important to give them the necessary time, resources and support to work on it.

While this might mean taking some of your employees away from their main work, these changes will establish brand health in the long term. As a result, you can expect higher profits in the future.

Therefore, making certain sacrifices is worth the investment.

Take Your Brand Perception to the Next Level

Brand perception is crucial in creating a successful business. It’s even more important when building a strong brand. Think of it as a way to be a better company overall.

You’ll want to create good experiences with people, make your services faster and simplify your processes. Once you create a stronger appearance of your brand, your efforts will help you in making your business succeed.

Know what it is you need to improve, make goals, improvise and follow the steps above to implement action.

About the Author: Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philadelphia with her husband and pup, Bear.